Telling Mumbai's tales
"Our brief was very clear it had to reflect the spirit of its context, and of course, since it is the tradition that every St Regis hotel property has a mural themed on the city its located in, and since this St Regis is located in the mill area, we were very clear that it should capture its spirit," said Gayatri Ruia, who is one half of the team that transformed Lower Parel and helped usher in a new chapter in the city's metamorphosis.
The Ruias, Atul and his wife, the impassioned art patron Gayatri were the inheritors of a post reform economy when they took their moribund Phoenix Mills and made it a lifestyle hub with bowling alleys, and cafes, and shopping way back in the nineties.
The mural at the hotel
No surprises then that even as they now welcome the St Regis group in to their until recently self-operated Palladium they have helped add a sense of context in this new chapter of the area's growth.
"The mural which is 20 x6 feet and painted by GR Iranna, is a tribute to a 100 years of Mumbai," said Gayatri, adding, "There's a statue of Gandhi being erected, some filmy wannabes hanging outside a studio story, an Amitabh Bachchan-like figure in a coolie uniform, a pani puri stand, lavani, Tilak. Iranna has really captured the city's lietmotifs beautifully."
Nights of wine and roses
Tuesday night, all roads led to Kiran and Anil Agarwal's sumptuous penthouse at Dhanraj Mahal, where they were celebrating the Queenie Singh-Rishi Sethia nuptials.
Queenie and Rishi Sethia
In one of the city's more dazzling residences, the fifth floor of the art deco Dhanraj Mahal in Mumbai, built in the 1930s by the the erstwhile Raja of Dhanrajgir of Hyderabad, is said to have been the largest single and costliest building in the city, spread over a mind-boggling 40,000 square feet.
The Sethias with Sushmita Sen
According to a social media site dedicated to the family, Raja Dhanrajgir Narsinghji, a philanthropist and aristocrat, had married the famous actress of yesteryears, Zubeida Begum, one of the first superstar heroines who'd acted in Alam Ara, and their marriage had been one of the 'happening events of 1930!'
This illustrious clan also boasts of Indira Dhanrajgir the Telugu poetess, Humayun Dhanrajgir the corporate leader, former model Sabita Dhanrajgir Umrigar who was a famous model, and Rhea Pillai former companion of Leander Paes and Art of Living healer.
Zahan Batliwala, the exquisitely mannered grandson of the erstwhile Raja, whom we met on Tuesday night, said, "My mother grew up in this apartment and it was even larger at that time." Indeed his mother, Renuka, a talented artist in her own right, had grown up in these striking rooms: high ceilings, exquisite-tiled floors and a fairytale castle-like verandah that snaked its way around the entire residence bringing in the glamour of the brightly lit street below.
And enjoying all this historic grandeur were all of Queenie's friends, celebrating with champagne, and bopping to the specially flown in for the occasion Mika Singh's bhangra beat. Kabir Bedi, Rhea Pillai, Suzanne Pillai, Sharmila Khanna, Tasneem Mehta, Svetlana Caspar, Ravi Krishnan, Ashok and Reena Wadhwa, AD Singh they were all there.
"There's just so much love in this room," said a visibly moved Rishi Sethia to us, as we took our leave. And as we were walking out we saw Sushmita Sen making her entry and we knew the party was going to go on for a long, long time.
Master chefs in the kitchen
He's known as Delhi's very own master chef for many years now, but chef Manish Mehrotra of the molecular cuisine-serving Indian Accent in Delhi's Manor Hotel, had another master chef visitor on Monday.
Calombaris with Mehrotra
Chef George Calombaris, the renowned Australian chef and restaurateur, who has a large Indian fan following due to his role as a judge on the successful culinary TV show Masterchef Australia was in the capital city, and dropped by for lunch to eat Manish's celebrated food, and is said to have bonded with his Indian counterpart, even posing for pictures after the meal.
And on the same topic word also comes in that Jamie Oliver, the British celebrity chef will soon open shop in Delhi with an eponymous brand of 'Jamie's Italian'. Why is Delhi's belly having all the fun?
Serendipity at work
The more things change, the more they stay the same. When we heard that the apartment the lovely Alia Bhatt had recently bought was Anupam Kher's in Juhu, we couldn't help thinking of the time when Mahesh Bhatt, Anupam Kher and Pritish Nandy were the closest of pals, and between themselves formed something of a triad of media's hip new voices a kind of Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap and Abhay Deol of the late eighties.
Mahesh Bhatt and Pritish Nandy
Pritish was editing the Illustrated Weekly, the hottest media act in town, Anupam had just done Saaransh and proved his acting chops, and Mahesh was something of the resident philosopher-guru of filmdom's brat pack. And then as these things happen, by the late nineties the trio had more or less disbanded, only to find that two of the group, Mahesh and Anupam ended up as neighbours in one of Juhu's most leafy enclaves many years later.
Anupam Kher and Alia Bhatt
And now, Alia, Mahesh's daughter will be moving across the road from the house she grew up in, to one that had been occupied by one of her dad's closest friends. And according to us, the only thing more serendipitous is if Anupam and Pritish might end up as neighbours next.